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Bull Med Libr Assoc. 2001 Jan;89(1):59-67.

Non-librarian health professionals becoming librarians and information specialists: results of an Internet survey.

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New York College of Podiatric Medicine, New York 10035, USA.



To obtain basic information about non-librarian health professionals who become librarians and information specialists.


The survey was a Web-based questionnaire. A non-random sample of persons was obtained by posting messages to several large Internet electronic discussion groups. Individuals who met the selection criteria and were willing to participate filled out a Web-based form designed using common gateway interface (CGI) programming.


118 forms were analyzed. Three subgroups of participants were identified and statistical comparisons among these groups were carried out for many of the quantitative questions. Information concerning reasons they left their original field; factors influencing their choice of the field of library and information science; reactions of family, friends, and colleagues; and interactions with patrons and other information about this group was obtained and summarized. A health sciences background was seen as helpful in the new career as information specialist. Most people were happy with their new profession despite negative reactions from colleagues, relatives, and, occasionally, patrons. Feelings of regret and abandonment of their patients were noted by some. Many persons did not know that peers had made similar career changes.


A health sciences background imparts an expertise in both the vocabulary and subject matter of medicine that non-biomedical individuals would not ordinarily have. Although becoming a librarian may be perceived as a very positive career change for an individual, societal opinion and pressure can make such a career change difficult. Nevertheless, participants in this survey demonstrate a high level of satisfaction with their new careers and are quite happy with their work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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